Business researches involve the collection of a variety of information. As a result, the researchers should be familiar with the different frameworks and assumptions that guide their research process. For instance, there is an epistemology framework and the metatheoretical assumption of positivism versus interpretivism that the labeling, realistic group conflict and taking into the community researches have tried to apply.
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Becker and Niehaves (2007) provide an epistemology framework with an underlying concept of breaking down epistemological questions that are imperative to researches information systems. In this framework, five questions arise and they all concern cognition. The first question is about the meaning of a cognition object from an ontological aspect that analyzes what and how a research object is (Becker & Niehaves, 2007).
According to ontological realism where researchers believe in the real independent world that is free from cognition, there is a possibility of reduction of all entities to matter. On the other hand, in ontological idealism researchers believe that cognition has some reality thus mental entities depend on human consciousness. Lastly, Kantianism researchers attempt to differentiate between ontological realism and idealism thus they assume that both dependent and independent entities exist.
The second question concerns the association between cognition and cognition object (Becker & Niehaves, 2007). The epistemological realism who operates under the same assumption as ontological realism believes that there is a possibility of an objective cognition that is independent of reality. On the contrary, constructivism believes that the subject determines the existence of the association between cognition and cognition object. Additionally, Becker & Niehaves (2007) states that the third question concerns the acquisition of true cognition. According to correspondence truth theory, true proclamations match with facts. However, the consensus truth theory believes that a true declaration is the one accepted by the majority. Furthermore, the semantic truth theory deems that a true situation is different from the object and the language.
The fourth question regards the origin of cognition (Becker & Niehaves, 2007). Empiricism reckons that it comes from experience while rationalism believes that its origin is intellect. Nonetheless, Kantianism believes that cognition comes from a personal experience together with his intellect. Finally, the last question is about the method that an individual can use to acquire cognition (Becker & Niehaves, 2007). To begin with, inductivism assumes that cognition moves from a part to a whole. On the other hand, deductivism deems that cognition is from the whole to a part. Conversely, Hermeneutics believes that prior understanding influences a person’s cognition.
The relationship of epistemology framework to Dr. Weber’s concern
The epistemology framework relates to Dr. Weber’s concern of metatheoretical assumptions where researchers apply the positivism and interpretivism approaches. In relation to ontology, Dr. Weber states that positivism researchers believe that people and the reality are distinct while interpretivism researchers argue that people cannot be separated from reality.
This assumption is similar to the epistemology framework where ontological realism and idealism researchers portray the same views respectively (Weber, 2004). Additionally, Dr. Weber explains that in epistemology assumption, positivism researchers deem that a person’s cognition is far beyond the reality while interpretivism researchers squabble that cognition is through a person’s experience. This postulation is analogous to rationalism and empiricism who possess the same beliefs correspondingly.
Moreover, Dr. Weber affirms that positivism researchers reckon that the research object possesses qualities that do not depend on the researcher. However, interpretivism thinks that the research object depends on the researcher’s experience. Accordingly, in epistemology framework, deductivism and inductivism hold the same assumptions as positivism and interpretivism in that order. Moreover, the correspondence truth theory described in the epistemology framework resembles the same truth theory in the metatheoretical assumption of positivism researchers (Weber, 2004). Additionally, positivism researchers believe that collected data measure the reality and this has a relation to the epistemology framework where the consensus truth theory believes that a true declaration is the one accepted by the majority.
Application of epistemology framework to theoretical explanations
Ashforth & Humphrey (1997) stated that labeling has an imperative impact on an individual, a group and an organization. This is because labeling has an influence on a person’s cognition. On the one hand, it results in an individual producing quality service that leads to organization prosperity. On the other hand, it increases the possibility of conflict among employees. In line with the epistemology framework, labeling operates under constructivism, deductivism and consensus truth theory (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1997).
According to constructivism, the cognition of a labeled person will determine whether he will assume the behavior associated with that label. In case he ignores the label a conflict can occur. Nonetheless, deductivism believes that the possibility of a person assuming behavior associated with a certain label is very high because the label comes from the majority. To emphasize this, the consensus truth theory believes that a true statement is from the majority. As a result, labeled people always mold their personalities to fit the label because they believe that the label possesses the truth.
When designing an electronic system for use by the community for knowledge dispersion, the community members need to be fully engaged in that process (Boland & Tenkasi, 1995). This is because these people hold values and beliefs that can make them reject or accept the system. For instance, hermeneutics believe that people’s understanding of a phenomenon is manipulated by an understanding of the whole concept (Boland & Tenkasi, 1995). Thus, people should be involved in an innovative process. However, ontological realism who believes in an independent world is bound to fail if he invents something without the people’s participation. This is because many people believe in ontological idealism, which respects and caters to human consciousness.
The realistic group conflict theory affirms that psychology research should involve findings from various investigations (Jay, 1993). This is because the epistemology framework states that the truth comes from the majority and the world depends on the conciseness of the people. In this theory, the analysis of the group is from a holistic perspective (Jay, 1993). This is different from the epistemology framework where epistemological realism believes that an object of cognition does not depend on reality. Additionally, people derive their cognition from their experience and perception of the world.
Why the rhetoric of positivism versus interpretivism has persisted
The rhetoric of positivism versus interpretivism has persisted because different researchers use different assumptions to conduct their research. This is due to the diverse nature of the researches hence not all researchers can focus on either positivism or interpretivism. Furthermore, researchers may need to concentrate on both sides of the metatheoretical assumptions. Therefore, the rhetoric of positivism versus interpretivism will persist so long as the differences between them continue to exist as well as the differences in research types.
To begin with, the labeling theory focuses on both the positivism and interpretivism aspect of the metatheoretical assumptions. For instance, it applies the interpretivism aspect that there is no distinction between an individual and the reality (Weber, 2004). This is the reason why a person assumes the personality of a label because the label comes from the world and an individual is part of the world. Conversely, positivism appears in the label theory when information is a gauge of reality (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1997). For this reason, people believe in the label because it results from the collected information.
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Additionally, the research about taking into the community employs both sides of the metatheoretical assumption. On the positivism aspect, the researcher believes in content analysis. As a result, an analysis of the community is imperative before any innovation is established (Boland & Tenkasi, 1995). On the other hand, the researcher applies the epistemological interpretivism assumption by believing that people’s knowledge is through experience (Boland & Tenkasi, 1995). This is the reason why the community members have to be involved because they have an experience of what is best for them.
Finally, realistic group conflict theory concentrate on positivism. As a result, the researcher conducts various investigations from different people because he believes that information measures reality (Jay, 1993). Additionally, the assumption of reliability is through the performance of a variety of tests because the researcher believes that reality is beyond human cognition and it depends on tests and measurements.
In conclusion, the epistemology framework has a great relationship with the metatheoretical assumption of positivism and interpretivism. As a result, various researchers apply this framework and assumptions during the research process. For instance, labeling, realistic group conflict and taking into the community researches have applied this framework and the assumptions. Lastly, due to the variation in positivism and interpretivism, the rhetoric has persisted and will continue to persist.
Ashforth, B., & Humphrey, R. (1997). The Ubiquity and Potency of Labeling in Organisations. Journal of the Institute of the Management Science , 8 (1), 43-56.
Becker, J., & Niehaves, B. (2007). Epistemiological Perspective on IS Research: A Framework for Analysing and Systematizing epistemological assumptions. Information System Journal , 17 (1), 197-214.
Boland, R., & Tenkasi, R. (1995). Perspective Making and Perspective Taking in Community of Knowing. Organisation Science , 6 (4), 350-369.
Jay, J. (1993). Realistic Group conflict Theory: A Review and Evaluation of the Theoretical and Emperical Literature. Psychological Record , 43 (3), 395-410.
Weber, R. (2004). The Rhetoric of Positivism Versus Interpretivism. MIS Quarterly , 28 (1), 3-12.